Lecture- Library of Congress

Posted on May 12, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017, at 1:30 pm in the

Reading Room, Library of Congress

Reading Room, Library of Congress

Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building

Eric Monroe (Supervisory Physical Scientist, Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress) will present the lecture: Broken Cylinders: Uncovering the nature of damage to early wax cylinder audio recordings during storage.

The Library of Congress maintains a large collection of wax cylinders, the earliest commercialized recorded sound carriers, many of which contain ethnographic field recordings from as early as 1890. Wax cylinders can present with several conditions issues including cracking during storage. We are taking a multi-pronged approach to identify changes resulting from aging and to guide the continued preservation of these materials. To this end, we have performed detailed chemical analyses of wax cylinders and fragments from our collection and have recreated historical wax compositions from recipes guided by both primary literature and chemical analyses. Comparing naturally aged wax cylinder fragments and recreated compositions enables the identification of any physical or chemical changes that may have occurred in the wax cylinders over the last 120+ years. This presentation will discuss our work in reverse engineering wax cylinder compositions, chemical and physical analyses of period and recreated compositions, identifying the putative cause of wax cylinder cracking, and changes in the handling of the cylinder collection that have been made as a result of this work.

For more information and to register for the webcast, please visit http://www.loc.gov/preservation/outreach/tops/monroe/index.html